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HP presents Rs 49,131 crore Budget for 2020; infra, education, housing top focus areas

Land acquisition work for 25 national highways (NHs) will start. Remaining 80 of total 3,226 panchayats of the state will be connected through road

twitter-logoPTI | March 7, 2020 | Updated 10:21 IST
HP presents Rs 49,131 crore Budget for 2020; infra, education, housing top focus areas

The Himachal Pradesh government on Friday presented a Rs 49,131-crore Budget for the fiscal 2020-21 and said the state has a debt burden of Rs 55,737 crore. The debt on Himachal Pradesh is higher than the amount earmarked in the budget for the next fiscal presented in the state Assembly on Friday. Himachal chief minister Jai Ram Thakur presented the Budget for the next fiscal which saw more focus on road and air connectivity, housing for poor and scheduled castes and quality education. Soon after presenting the budget, Thakur responding to a media query revealed that the debt burden on the state rose to Rs 55,737 crore.

Earlier while presenting the budget, the chief minister said that Rs 10.4 would be spent on interest payment out of every hundred rupees to be spent by the state government in 2020-21. In this way, over ten per cent of total budget amount will be spent on loan interest payment. In other words, the state government will use approximately Rs 5,109 crore on loan interest payment out of the total Rs 49,131 crore budget in 2020-21. No new tax has been proposed in the budget which saw an increase of Rs 4,743 crore from Rs 44,388 crore in 2019-20. It was 41,440 crore in 2018-19. The revenue receipts of 2020-21 are estimated at Rs 38,429 crore, whereas expenditure is likely to be Rs 39,123 crore -- leading to a revenue deficit of Rs 694 crore.

The fiscal deficit is estimated at Rs 7,272 crore for 2020-21, which is 4 per cent of GSDP. The net borrowing will be 3 per cent of GSDP. Presenting his third budget, Thakur, who also holds the finance portfolio, announced 25 new schemes for various sections. Most of new schemes named as Swaran Jayanti as Himachal Pradesh is celebrating golden jubilee of its statehood this year. In his nearly three-hour address in the Assembly while tabling the 150-page proposed budget, Thakur said Rs 26.66 would be spent on salaries out of every hundred rupees to be spent by the state government in 2020-21. Similarly Rs 14.79 will be spent on pension, Rs 10.4 on interest payment, Rs 7.29 on loan repayment and Rs 41.22 will be on development works and other activities, he added.

The leader of opposition Mukesh Agnihotri alleged while talking to media that the chief minister paid more heed on his home district Mandi by earmarking a huge amount for acquisition of land for starting work for proposed airport there. Himachal Congress president Kuldeep Rathore and its incharge Rajni Patil termed budget as directionless. On the other hand, the state BJP chief Rajeev Bindal claimed the budget as developmental stating that several new schemes were included in the budget to achieve the target of doubling the income of the farmers. Earlier presenting the budget, Thakur said a target was set to provide 10,000 quality houses to the poor and scheduled caste families in the next fiscal, more than double the number last year.

He announced that Rs 8,016 crore would be spent in the education sector for strengthening infrastructure and providing quality education at school level and setting up gyms in government medical colleges in a phased manner. Gyms will also be set up in nine other colleges, he added. Mathematics laboratories will be set up in the next fiscal in 50 schools to make study more interesting, he added. Part-time multi-task workers will also be appointed in the next fiscal in those primary schools where no water career is there, he added.

Thakur said Rs 1,013 crore earmarked for expanding air connectivity, the amount is the highest ever in any budget of the state. Process for land acquisition for expanding Shimla and Gaggal airports and starting work of Mandi airport will be expedited. Besides, five heliports will be constructed. Land acquisition work for 25 national highways (NHs) will start. Remaining 80 of total 3,226 panchayats of the state will be connected through road, he added.

The chief minister said 50,000 farmers had adopted natural farming in the state so far. Efforts will be made to encourage more farmers to adopt natural farming for which an amount of Rs 25 crore will be spent in 2020-21, he added. Thakur said Himachal would contribute to India's goal of reaching USD 5 trillion economy. Talking about the health sector, Thakur said that mammography machines would be installed in each district hospital of the state for detecting breast cancer.

The pension of 1.25 lakh widows and disabled has been increased to Rs 1,000 from Rs 850 per month. Besides, social security pension will be provided to 50,000 more eligible persons. The chief minister said that uninterrupted 24-hour water supply will be launched in Shimla soon. A total of Rs 2,213 crore has been earmarked for water management in the next fiscal, he added. The Himachal Pradesh Investment Agency (HPIA) will be set up for which a bill will soon be tabled in the Assembly. It will help investors in getting clearance from various departments for setting up their units in the state. Thakur said that three more antiretroviral therapy (ART) centres would be opened apart from already functional 6 ART centres for providing medicines to HIV patients.

He said that the state government planned to plant saplings on 12,000 hectares land more for which an amount of Rs 15 crore was earmarked in 2020-21. Forests are currently located on 27.2 per cent geographical land of the state and the state wants to increase it to at least 30 per cent by 2030, he added. Talking about the drug menace, he said that five integrated rehabilitation centres of addicts (IRCA) would be set with the assistance of the centre.

Besides 515 MW additional generation capacity will be added which include Bajoli-Holi, Wangar Homte, Sorang, Sawra Kuddu and Uhl projects. Speaking about solid waste management, he said that 500 gram panchayats will be made garbage free in the next fiscal.

The per capita income in Himachal Pradesh is Rs 60,205 higher than that of the country, he added. The estimated per capita income of Himachal Pradesh is Rs 1,95,255 during 2019-20 whereas per-capita net national income during the same fiscal is estimated to be Rs 1,35,050. The chief minister said, "I propose to celebrate 2020-21 as Golden Jubilee of 'Himachal Pradesh attaining full statehood'." Various programmes and shows will be held across the state and achievements will be shared with the public, he added.

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